Make the Most of a Networking Event

Networking: the act of meeting seasoned professionals, talking about yourself, and continuing conversations. It can be nerve-racking experience, especially for college students. Since joining Bravo Group in April, I have attended two networking events, and have at least one more on the calendar. The Pennsylvania Public Relations Society (PPRS) hosted a networking and professional development program in April and most recently, the Harrisburg Regional Chamber hosted a Business After Hours with summer interns. Both events ended with numerous business card exchanges and follow-up emails. Being a networking pro takes practice, but follow these tips and you’ll be there in no time: Before the event Before a networking event, you need to get prepared. Research the event to see what types of professionals you’ll be meeting. When I was planning for PPRS, I knew that everyone in the room would be working or interested in public relations, which made it easy to spark a conversation. For the Chamber event, I knew there would be interns that I could relate to. I suggest bringing business cards and a pen along in your purse or pocket. Having personal business cards makes it easy for people to have your contact information and it shows that you’re prepared to go into the workforce. The pen is handy in case you or someone else runs out of cards and still want to exchange contact information. You should have a 30 second pitch ready. This is how you will introduce yourself to the professionals you meet. Be sure to include your name, where you’re interning or working (if it’s relative to your field), the college you’re attending, what you’re studying, and your interests or future goals. Here’s mine for reference:

“Hello, my name is Ariana Stroman. I am a communications intern at Bravo Group and a 4th year student at Drexel University. I am interested in learning about the marketing and communications fields and how to turn my passion for health and wellness into an entrepreneurial venture.”

During the event Networking is all about meeting people, so during the event use your 30 second pitch to introduce yourself and join conversations. Try to meet as many people as you can, but don’t try to meet everybody, unless it’s a small group. It is more effective to have quality interactions with five people than to blurt out your pitch to everyone in the room. After the event The biggest mistake you can make is gathering business cards and doing absolutely nothing with them. Within three days of the event, take twenty minutes to write personalized emails to each of the people you talked to. If you had a conversation, but there wasn’t a connection, thank them for their time and express interest in keeping the communication open. If you meet someone you really connect with or who has an opportunity you’d like to pursue ask them to continue the conversation over coffee or lunch. Whatever route you take, keep the conversation going. Ariana Stroman | Harrisburg

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